Many residential (and some commercial) customers don’t realize that when they hire a general contractor to build their home or commercial property, they are essentially assuming the role of procurement and overall project manager, and that they have a say in hiring and firing sub trades on their project. Here is what you need to know.
Your General Contractor Is Your Employee
Whether you are working with a small homebuilder or a larger commercial general, the contractor you hire to build your home or commercial building is in a very real sense your employee for the duration of the project. They might take care of the details for you, but in the end, you will always have veto rights on decisions related to your project, if you choose to exercise them.
Not All General Contractors Act in Your Best Interests
Many general contractors are entirely fair, ethical and above board, and provide great service and a superior end product. However, every once in a while, you will find one who allows personal relationships or politics to cloud their judgement, and that may affect the advice and service they can offer. Sometimes it is because they are doing a favor for a friend or a family member, or sometimes it is a personality clash that causes it, but these kinds of politics should never be allowed to influence your building project.
Your General Contractor Has a Duty
Your general contractor has a duty to honor your wishes as the client, as well as to provide the very best clear, unbiased advice and assistance. That may mean that they can make recommendations, but again, if you decide to choose a different supplier, sub trade or service provider, and you are paying the bill, then they have a duty to accommodate your wishes.
When You Have a Relationship with an Electrical Company
One of the most common issues we hear about in our business is when a general contractor ignores their client’s wishes to use or consider a particular electrical contractor. Essentially, they force their clients to use their own sub trades, including electrical contractors, plumbers and other service providers. In many cases that works out, but in some, the client ends up with subpar work that is delivered late or is not to specification. You should never be forced to use any service provider if you are not completely comfortable.
What You Can Do
Whether you choose to use the electrical contractor recommended by your general or not, you have a right to make informed choices, and, since you are paying the bills, you are entitled to hire any sub trades you choose.
Consider approaching contractors you are considering using directly for estimates or comparison quotes, and discuss them with your contractor. If you want to use a contractor other than the one they have recommended, insist on it. After all, as long as you are writing the checks, and it is your name on the blueprints as the client, it is your decision - and you are entitled to request to see subcontractors competitive quotes too.
Make sure that you do not sign any contracts with any general contractor where they have stipulated that they have the right to choose sub trades, or you may find that you are stuck with their decision.
Finally, if you do know and trust a great electrical company, and you are planning a build, why not flip the script and ask them which general contractors they recommend? After all, they have insider knowledge!